denials

Our decolonial perspective is informed and inspired by Indigenous analyses and practices that affirm that our current global problems are not related to a lack of knowledge, but to an inherently violent modern-colonial habit of being. Four denials structure this habit of being:

  • the denial of systemic violence and complicity in harm (the fact that our comforts, securities and enjoyments are subsidized by expropriation and exploitation somewhere else),
  • the denial of the limits of the planet (the fact that the planet cannot sustain exponential growth and consumption),
  • the denial of entanglement (our insistence in seeing ourselves as separate from each other and the land, rather than “entangled” within a living wider metabolism that is bio-intelligent), and
  • denial of the depth and magnitude of the problems that we face.

We have created a social cartography that maps these four primary denials onto four levels of denial. Download it in PDF here.

  Violence Unsustainability Entanglement Depth of the Problem(s)
Deep denial

(refusal to engage the critique)

No recognition of racial/colonial violence No recognition of ecological unsustainability No recognition of entanglement No recognition of serious problems of concern
Interpretive denial

(selective acceptance of the critique)

Racial/colonial violence is a product of exclusion from opportunities and institutions, and should be addressed through inclusion and access Ecological unsustainability (climate change, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, ecological degradation, pollution) is a product of inefficiency and wastefulness, and should be addressed through technological innovations, renewable energy Relationality and responsibility are established through individual choices regarding (social, familial, political) association The problems we face can be adequately addressed with minor changes to policy and practice, and technological solutions
Implicative denial

(acceptance of the critique, but not the full implications)

Racial/colonial violence is a product of the existing system, and should be addressed through systemic changes, e.g. redistributing resources and centering marginalized voices Ecological unsustainability is a product of corporate greed and political corruption, and should be addressed through collective public action and mass movements to create green energy/jobs/policies Relationality and responsibility operate within collective structures that exceed individual choices and should be therefore addressed with regard to the relevant power relations and obligations We will need to take concerted collective action and mobilize political will in order to enable the kind of transformations that can adequately address the serious problems we face
No denial

(full acceptance of critique and implications)

Racial/colonial violence is the condition of possibility for the existing system and while changes to the system in the short term can be important for harm reduction, in the long term harm will not cease until the system itself is either dismantled or falls on its own Ecological unsustainability is a product of the economic and ecological logics of the existing system (i.e. extractivist capitalism), and while green energy/jobs/technologies are important for mitigation, we will ultimately need to surrender this way of life and enact another mode of existence Relationality and responsibility operate at many layers, including an existential layer before will (unconditional), and a political layer that recognizes systemic violence and tries to mitigate harm (in the short term) and cease the harm to ensure collective well being (in the long term) The depth and magnitude of the problems we face will make impossible the continuity of our existing ways of knowing, being and relating; we will need to disinvest from dominant problem-solving strategies and tap into exiled capacities to addresses these challenges